I wrote about Landry Jones for the Tuesday Oklahoman, and my hope was that OU fans would realize they’ve got a pretty good quarterback on their hands. Not a superstar. Not yet, anyway, and maybe not ever. But a really good quarterback who can get things done.
“Ultimately, you determine a guy off wins and losses,” OU offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. Can’t blame Heupel for thinking that way; he went 13-0 as a senior in 2000. But it’s also true.
Jones now is 18-5 as the Sooner starter, which is not a glittering record by OU standards. But when you factor in the 7-3 record in the 2009 train-wreck-of-a-season, 18-5 is not half bad.
The truth about Jones is that if you compare him to Sam Bradford 2008, Jones will come out looking bad. But if you compare Jones to Bradford 2007, hey, not bad. Here are the numbers:
Quarterback rating: ’10 Jones 145.2; ’07 Bradford 176.5.
TD-interception ratio: ’10 Jones 35-11; ’07 Bradford 36-8.
Completion percentage: ’10 Jones 65.8; ’07 Bradford 69.5
Yards-per-game: ’10 Jones 329.9; ’07 Bradford 222.9.
Anytime you can stand next to Bradford’s numbers, even from his non-Heisman season, and not be totally embarrassed, you’re doing good. The comparison isn’t perfect. Bradford was a redshirt freshman in 2007; Jones is a redshirt sophomore in 2010, with 10 starts the year before. So that’s a big difference.
But still. We’re not arguing that Jones ever will be as good as Sammy B. in 2008. We’re arguing that if Jones can improve off this season — and why on Earth would he not? — then the Sooners are headed for excellent quarterbacking in 2011 and perhaps 2012.
“He’s continuing to evolve and grow, take more responsibility as a leader,” Heupel said of Jones. “More confident. You guys have seen that, too. Base everything off numbers, the guy’s been very successful in a short amount of time.”
Heupel told the story of talking to Bradford after West Virginia routed the Sooners in the Fiesta Bowl three years ago.
“The day after, I talked to him and told him, ‘You’re going to be a much better player,’” Heupel said. It came to pass.
Heupel admits that Jones didn’t play well at times in 2009, though a lot of the perception was based on that five-interception game at Nebraska. Heupel also says that even if Bradford had played the entire season, his numbers might have waned, because of offensive line and receiver issues.
“Some downfalls weren’t Landry’s fault,” Heupel said. “Landry, he’s continuing to mature in his preparation and work ethic.”